The nightlife in Cardiff is widely known as one of the UK’s liveliest, but while it can certainly get pretty raucous on the Welsh capital's streets after dark, there are more sophisticated pleasures to be had as well. From the upcoming maritime quarter of Cardiff Bay to the hipster neighbourhood of Pontcanna, there are loads of options in this major student hub to keep lovers of coffee shops and bars on their toes.

    The city's hubbub certainly doesn't stop when night falls. Multicultural kitchens serve spicy Indian dishes between hearty rugby pubs down the same street. Music venues rock with local Welsh talent in another spot. There are homegrown Celtic brewhouses and even refined wine bars to boot. Our guide to the most popular places to go at night in Cardiff has the lowdown on the best of the bunch.


    Westgate Street

    Enjoy a Welsh ale before the rugby

    • Nightlife

    Every rugby fan who's ever attended a showdown at the huge Principality Stadium should know of Westgate Street. It runs just along the eastern edge of the home of the Welsh game, offering a series of local pubs, bustling breweries, and rollicking bars.

    As you might imagine, the energy is pumping on game days (especially when the English are in town). A sea of red fills the beer terraces and the interiors, where dark Celtic ales and cheery pub grub is the order of the hour. During the summertime, the green neighborhoods of Bute Park, just to the north, are also lively in the evening, scented with barbecues and hosting alfresco gatherings and food fests.

    Location: Westgate Street, Cardiff CF10 1DG, UK


    photo by Jeremy Segrott (CC BY 2.0) modified



    Cardiff's edgy hipster district

    • Nightlife

    Pontcanna is now considered one of the trendiest quarters of the Welsh capital. Wedged in by the River Taff and the Sophia Gardens cricket ground, it's a leafy and green residential neighbourhood. But it's been on the up for years, sprouting microbreweries, cafés and loads more.

    At night, it's one of the best neighborhoods in Cardiff for gastronomy and more refined drinking bouts. You could start at Milkwood for some rustic Welsh cooking. Or, perhaps you'd prefer the French-Celtic fusion at Bullys Restaurant? Either way, the homegrown Pipes Brewery and the quaint Brewhouse and Kitchen cottage pub take care of the afterhours.


    photo by Moochocoogle (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Cardiff Bay

    Dine and drink by salty quaysides

    • Nightlife
    • Food

    The locals refer to Cardiff Bay as, simply, The Bay. It's just where you'd expect it to be, spreading around the coast where the capital meets the salty waters of the Bristol Channel. Family-friendly draws like the curious Techniquest science exhibit have long been popular in these parts, but a regeneration throughout the noughties also brought some bumping nightlife.

    The evening can start with jalapeno-filled tacos or soy-topped Japanese sushi in the multicultural array of eateries. Then, it's easy to skip onto The Glee Club for some late-night comedy, or scoot across to the Eli Jenkins for some Welsh ales in a heated garden.


    Saint Mary Street

    Bumping clubs where you can dance the night away

    • Nightlife

    Saint Mary Street is the buzzing epicenter of downtown Cardiff, cutting right through the heart of the city from Duke Street. By day, it's a shopping haven, with everything from boutiques to bakeries up its sleeve. By night, it converts into a hedonistic medley of Irish pubs and rocking alt clubs that can keep you going until the early hours.

    Stand-out venues include Aussie-themed chain Walkabout, the vibrant Peppermint Bar, and the cocktail hub of Be At One. It's a good idea to arrive early on weekends because queues are the norm come Friday night.

    Location: St Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1AB, UK


    photo by Lucas Migliorelli (CC BY 3.0) modified


    Brewery Quarter

    Drinking places aplenty in the heart of the city

    • Nightlife

    The Brewery Quarter does precisely what its name implies, and then some. Joined at the hip to the middle of sleepless St Mary Street, it hosts a hodgepodge of restaurants, bistros, and – of course – drinking holes.

    You'll be able to kick-start the evening with refined Indian fusion food. Then, move onto a gastropub to sample frothy beers with Welsh names you can hardly pronounce. Finally, you'll catch cocktail bars that hum with chatter until well past midnight. On rugby days, expect the Brewery Quarter to be ram-packed – the Principality Stadium is just a stone's throw up the road, after all.


    photo by Elliott Brown (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Womanby Street

    Brewpubs, rock venues, and loads more

    • Nightlife

    Womanby Street flies the flag for Cardiff's more alternate nightlife venues. It's suitably tucked away in a maze of alleys behind High Street and Westgate Street, in a small enclave of its own. There, it welcomes partiers with bars and music dives of a quirkier disposition.

    Tiny Rebel is the obvious place to begin. It's arguably the most well-known name on the Welsh craft beer scene, with fruity, zingy IPAs and more all gushing from the taps at its location on Womanby. Up the road is live-music haven Clwb Ifor Bach. Next door is solo-twanging Fuel club, built for the metalheads. 

    Location: Womanby Street, Cardiff CF10 1BR, UK


    photo by Jeremy Segrott (CC BY 2.0) modified



    Where the students go for a late-night out

    • Nightlife

    Cathays is synonymous with the campus of Cardiff University. A whole district that spreads northwards from the city centre, it's a sprawling mass of lecture halls and student accommodations. Of course, that youthful vibe means nightlife shouldn't be far behind.

    Cue Senghennydd Road and its mix of affordable gastropubs, where meal deals can sometimes mean a burger and a pint for under a tenner. Alternately, there's City Road for Cardiff soccer pubs and cheery takeout eats. Of course, there's also always the student union, which sees big-name bands and DJs gracing its stage during term time.


    photo by peter clayton (CC BY 2.0) modified



    Local pubs and tasty eats

    • Nightlife
    • Food

    Grangetown is part industrial, part residential, with just a sprinkling of casual evening and night-time establishments on its roster. The bulk of them sit to the north side of the district, near Saltmead and the winding River Taff. The good news is that makes them perfectly walkable from the town center and the train station.

    Highlights for gourmands will include Veggie Food Studio and Grange Pub, which both offer intriguing takes on British and Indian classics. Closer to town are excellent music and arts venues like the Tramshed, which has hosted all sorts – slam poetry readings, Radio 1 DJ shows, and alternate rock bands, just to name a few.


    photo by Tiia Monto (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified



    Refined dining and cafés by the coast

    • Nightlife
    • Food

    Pretty Penarth sits over the River Ely and Cardiff Bay from the city proper, about 15 minutes' drive in normal traffic from the train station. It's hailed as one of the most upscale and chic parts of the Welsh capital, and that certainly shines through in the local nightlife offerings.

    Sleek and boho drinking spots like Bar 44 offer curated wine lists along with Spanish tapas. The Mint and Mustard plates up Indian fusion dishes with an elegant edge. There are also sophisticated Welsh fish bars and snazzy cocktail lounges. All in all, it's a quieter scene than the center of Cardiff that's excellent for the more discerning traveler. 



    Indian flavors mingle with quirky bars

    • Nightlife
    • Food

    Canton caps off the west side of Cardiff. It's a big area, including the Cardiff City soccer stadium and large Victoria Park. However, when it comes to nightlife, you really need to focus in on Cowbridge Road, which cuts all the way through the middle of things.

    It's known locally as a hotspot for Indian eating. Rajasthani cookhouses mingle with Bengali takeouts and creative spots like Chai Street – try the thali (plate) – to offer oodles in the way of spice. There's also a smattering of Chinese and East Asian dining, along with some good local pubs with spacious interiors and low prices.

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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